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Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Ways to Use LinkedIn November 23, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Marketing, Productivity, Tools.
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Tips on jumpstarting your productivity on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to join the SMBTN on LinkedIn group.

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5th Annual SMB Summit Conference Announced November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Events, IT Business, SMB Summit.
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The SMB Technology Network is pleased to announce that it will hold its 5th annual SMB Summit conference May 15-17, 2009 at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Dallas, Texas. We had such a great response from members about that venue and like that it is a central location that all of our members can get to easily.

We have had and overwhelming number of inquiries from sponsors and speakers alike about this year’s event. I firmly believe that it will be the best event yet and hope that you will pencil it in on your calendar today!

More information about the event will be available shortly at the SMB Summit website within a few weeks. Pre-registration for the event will be available in early December so save the date now. You will not want to miss this event!

SMBTN Offers E-Folder November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, IT Business, Partners, SMBTN, Tools.
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efolder-logo-imageNext week, the SMB Technology Network will begin offering e-Folder to its members. Guest accounts for interested members will be available on Wednesday, November 26, 2009, along with pricing information. Our eFolder web portal may be found here. To pre-register for a guest account or to obtain pricing information, please e-mail SMBTN Member Services or call them at (888) GO-SMBTN.

SMBTN members can choose to deploy either the standard SMBTN branded eFolder client or can have their own branding created and refelected to their customers. Watch for more information next week!

SMBTN Health Benefits Program is LIVE! November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Partners, SMBTN.
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association-health-programs-logoSMBTN members will now receive savings up to 40% on Health Insurance, Life Insurance, Disability Income, and Long-Term Care Insurance and More!

The SMB Technology Network is pleased to announce new health benefits programs, exclusively designed for our members.  All members who participate in these programs will receive special premium rates and enhanced insurance coverage for yourself, your family or your company. These benefits can be extended to part-time and full-time employees of your company, as well.

We are pleased to offer significant association value to our members on programs including:

• Health Insurance
• Student Health Insurance
• Life Insurance
• Long-Term Care Insurance
• Disability Income
• Critical Illness
• Cancer and Accident Policy
• Dental and Vision
• And More!

To take advantage of this tremendous membership benefit, visit the SMBTN Association Health Programs website and fill out the online form.  An Association Health Program representative will contact you with a free, no obligation quote.  Or call them toll free at 888-450-3040. 

Programs are contracted through nationwide A-Rated insurance carriers, as rated by A.M. Best and are offered by SMBTN in conjunction with Health Benefits Professionals & Association Health Programs. Rates and availability may vary by state.

This truly is the best program out there and it is made available exclusively for SMBTN members!  With savings of up to 40% and the current economic conditions, I have already called to get my quote. Find out how you can benefit from this membership program today!

Best Practices for Using ReImage November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Partners, SMBTN, Tools.
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Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage FREE!

Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage FREE!

A couple of weeks ago, we introduced a new relationship with a company called ReImage. ReImage is a software tool that promises to repair broken Windows XP installations in as little as 30 minutes.

I have personally run the tool on 25-30 machines over the past month with great success and have come to rely upon it as a first response tool for issues I encounter with XP. Like most tools, it is not perfect and won’t correct every issue. However, after working with it for this period of time, I have come up with some best practices that should assist you, when you decide to give it a try.

  1. Run ReImage from safe-mode with networking or its boot CD. If you are using a remote support tool like LogMeIn IT Reach or Rescue, you can still run this tool by first rebooting the computer into “Safe Mode” and then reconnecting with it to make the repair.
  2. ReImage is an ActiveX control and must be run from Microsoft Internet Explorer. It currently does not support Firefox and Beta versions of Internet Explorer.
  3. While I often run ReImage in its Autofix and Reboot mode on computers that are really messed up, I recommend that you run it in standard mode for most systems and review the Analysis report before making any repairs. ReImage will disable startup applications it is not aware of and gives you the option of bringing them back at a later date using MSConfig. A cursory review of the analysis report permits you to uncheck those programs that you do not want disabled and provides you with other important troubleshooting information.
  4. If you are running ReImage on a machine that you suspect is infected with a rootkit, run it from the boot CD.
  5. Temporarily turn off any antivirus software while running ReImage, as the product contains AVG antivirus. When the initial repair is complete, I recommend that you reenable your regular antivirus software and run a full scan of the hard drive.
  6. ReImage won’t help old/weak PC’s that are laden with a lot of legitimate memory resident programs (e.g. Skype + ICQ + Miranda + Yahoo + MSN + AV + Anti-Spyware + Firewall + Windows/Google Desktop Search etc).  In such a case the hardware itself cannot support the load of so many programs.
  7. Reimage will indicate a slow HDD (which can indicate an HDD on its way to die) and low RAM. Paying attention to such warnings (written in red) shown by Reimage can be a key to find the problem, even if Reimage itself cannot (obviously) fix it, it can still diagnose it.
  8. Fixing 3rd party programs (anything that is not a part of Windows XP) is limited to scenarios in which an unhealthy OS causes a 3rd party application not to run well. However, in many cases it’s the 3rd party application is faulty and it is not the OS, so Reimage won’t help.
  9. When the PC is connected to a faulty network. A normal LAN is always advised, Wi-Fi is a greater risk. A firewall/gateway with strong content filtering mechanism MAY harm Reimage by altering the communication with the ReImage server. However, most of my clients are running SonicWALL TotalSecure firewalls with all the bells and whistles and have had no issue.
  10. PCs that suffer from spontaneous blue screens/ reboots while working/ idle are highly recommended to be fixed using Boot CD only. If spontaneous blue screens/reboots keep happening in Boot CD then it’s a hardware problem that must be addressed first. (Boot CD does NOT work in “from CD” mode. Only “from ramdisk” mode)
  11. Known issues with HDD (bad sectors etc, corrupt file system etc). Bad sectors are the time to replace the HDD. Corrupt file-system requires first running ChkDisk and making sure all is back to normal.
  12. If you have any issues, contact Technical Support and they will assist you. We have had great luck with them. They are good listeners and are very receptive to the feedback offered by SMBTN members.

The thing I like best about ReImage is that it meets the first criteria I have for SMB IT consulting which is “first, do no harm” (sounds familiar, huh?). Before it makes any repairs, it images a copy of all the files that it plans to modify so if you have a problem with a repair, you can restore the computer to its original state. It also does not effect user data.

We expect to announce a great program for SMBTN members that want to use ReImage within the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have ideas about enhancements to the product or are having issues with a trial that you are having any difficulty addressing, please contact SMBTN Member Services and we will get you in touch with the right people at ReImage.

Rules of Engagement for SMB IT Providers November 8, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business.
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In military or police operations, the rules of engagement (ROE) determine when, where, and how force shall be used. Such rules are both general and specific, and there have been large variations between cultures throughout history. The rules may be made public, as in a martial law or curfew situation, but are typically only fully known to the force that intends to use them.

In the IT services business, you should estbalish your own rules of “engagement”. No, I am not suggesting that you treat your clients, as enemy combatants. I am just suggesting that you establish a set of rules or standards for doing business with a client. Some may be public or private. Others, may be hard and fast or soft and flexible. Regardless, you should truly consider outlining these and adhering to them, time and again. I find that every time I fail to do so, I do a disservice to myself, my business, my client or my family. Hence, I have outlined my Rules of Engagement for IT services below:

  1. Always do a written assessment of some sort. It establishes the baseline for your relationship.
  2. Establish minimum standards for the IT environment that you will support.
  3. Establish that client can pay your bills.
  4. Scope your work. Scope creep is the enemy of both business owners and IT professionals alike, so make sure that you properly communicate the scope of work you will perform and communicate any changes required to the client along the way.
  5. Use a contract or letter of engagement. Make sure it outlines both what you will deliver and what your expectations of the client are.
  6. Provide a written report of the work you perfromed. This can take the form of an invoice, report or ticket but reestablishes how you left things when compared to the initial written assessment you performed.
  7. Manage your client’s expectations. Communicate with them regularly on issues related to their business and technology and suggest where improvemants can be made.
  8. Consider how the client will likely impact your business, family life, personal health and your overall quality of life.
  9. Follow your gut.

Before you write your own rules of engagement for your IT business, consider taking a look at the Moscow Rules, the fabled, practical rules of engagement supposedly used by CIA operatives in Moscow during the Cold War. I think you will find them to be a good start when considering your own rules of “engagement”. Hence, I invite you to join the discussion and comment on the rules of engagement for your IT business.

Boost Business with Customized HP/Microsoft Marketing Campaigns November 8, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Marketing, Partners, Promotions.
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HP/Microsoft Frontline Partner LogoHP has a new and cost-effective way for you to quickly boost your sales revenue of HP business computing systems and industry-standard servers running Microsoft operating systems and business software. To help you with the development and customization of marketing materials to use to find incremental revenue streams, we have launched a series of marketing campaigns utilizing integrated HP and Microsoft messaging. Within each campaign, you can easily and quickly customize a range of marketing materials with your logo, call to action, contact information and company profile and deploy a new campaign in mere minutes. And it’s free for you to use!


Register and utilize the new marketing campaigns and their customizable materials at www.hpmspartnermarketing.com. By using these customized deliverables for your demand generation campaigns, you may be able to find new revenue opportunities and accelerate sales of more Microsoft solutions built on reliable HP technology. So, don’t delay—get registered today!


In addition to the campaigns, there are other aspects about the website that you need to know about:

·         New Campaign: Mid-Market Infrastructure featuring HP BladeSystem running Windows Server 2008 launched earlier this week. Be the first to get this solution to your prospects.

·         Updated Campaigns: First Server, Right Server, Remote Access Solution, Upgrade the Client and Enable Your Mobile Workforce campaigns were all updated this month. Now is the time to start executing these extremely fresh campaigns.

·         Robust Incentives: Starting on 10/30, if you’re among the First 50 to customize marketing materials, you will be eligible for a $1000 subsidy good for printing or mailing services. Don’t miss this opportunity!

·         FLP Store: We just opened a store from which you can purchase FLP-branded or custom-branded promotional items with your logo.


As part of the terms and conditions to customizing and running a campaign, you are agreeing to report all campaign results. We also have a feedback form  that you can use to file any constructive criticism in order to ensure that we keep improving the campaign model we’ve created for you. Both the results and feedback data that we receive from you enable us to continue to offer updated campaigns each quarter, as well as, the ability to implement new campaigns at www.hpmspartnermarketing.com.


Have questions? Send an email to concierge@hpmspartnermarketing.com.


— The HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership Team


Small Biz Thoughts by Karl Palachuk: Ducks In The Wild Sale/Contest November 6, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Partners, Promotions.
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Don’t forget to send Karl your favorite “duckie” pictures and take this opportunity to enhance your knowledge of the SMB IT business by picking up one of the many great books offered by SMB Books, the official bookstore of the SMB Technology Network. Remember, all SMBTN members save 10% on purchases from SMB Books every day. Good Luck!

From Karl’s blog:

It begins.

I’ve recieved a few duck pictures.

We gave away almost a thousand rubber duckies at SMB Nation.

Now come the pictures.

This lovely duck found a place to swim — in someone’s beer!

Cell phones are great.

Do you have a better duck picture? Did you attend SMB Nation and come away with a duck?

Well, we want to know what the far-flung flock is up to. We have now disseminated ducks to several continents.

Please join our duck photo contest — and win big at SMB Books!

The rules are simple:

1) You send me a picture of your rubber ducky. Karlp@greatlittlebook.com. You can be in the picture. The duck can be doing whatever turns you on.

2) I’ll send you a coupon code good for $10 USD off any purchase of $20 or more at SMBBooks.com.

3) Promotion ends November 30th, 2008.
Coupons are good through December 31st.

4) The big winner of the “Best Duck Photo” contest will receive an additional $50 Coupon, good for any purchase at SMB Books.

5) If you don’t have a duck, send an entertaining picture and we’ll include a duck with your order. While supplies last.

6) There is no cost to enter.

Good Luck!

– – – –

Fine Print:

Photos will be judged by whoever is walking by the hallway on the last day of the contest.

In the event of a tie, the two winners will be flown to Amsterdam for a night on the town with their entire staff, all expenses paid.

We do not anticipate a tie.


via Small Biz Thoughts by Karl Palachuk: Ducks In The Wild Sale/Contest